“I had wanted Lori to make a memorial quilt for years. My mother was in possession of a box of my father’s shirts she had erringly convinced herself were all “taupe”. It was a pleasure to turn over the garments to someone who truly cherishes and understands textiles. I was a recipient of sometimes daily emails and photos that tracked her progress and included me in details of the work. These emails and photos were so compelling that I ended up forwarding them to many relatives, and we all enjoyed watching the quilt come together through the ether. The quilt now lives on my bed, and just the other day as I lay awake in the dark, I was feeling the different textures of the fabrics side by side and realizing there was still more to explore about my beautiful quilt even with my eyes closed.” – Amanda (Lewis’ daughter)
Amanda and I had known each other for a number of years, so after her father died, she decided to commission me to make a memorial quilt out of some of her father’s clothes. But because of a misunderstanding between her and her mother, it would be another few years before she had the garments in hand to start the quilt. When Amanda first asked her mom for the shirts to make a memorial quilt, her mom thought the quilt was meant for her. She personally didn’t want a quilt made from her late-husband’s shirts, and not wanting to offend Amanda, said nothing. At the time, Amanda thought perhaps her mom wasn’t ready to give them up, so she didn’t press it. When she asked about it again a couple of years later, her mom confessed that it wasn’t something she was interested in owning. As soon as Amanda explained that she wanted the quilt for herself, the clothes were mailed right away.
Amanda was clear that she wanted a functional, queen-size quilt that she could touch, feel, and use on a daily basis. We revised one of my existing quilt patterns, keeping elements that Amanda liked and taking out the parts she didn’t. The quilt was made from 15 of her father’s shirts – they were all so elegant and ranged from light to dark in beautiful grays and browns.
Amanda had shared with me that while her father was not particularly attached to acquiring material things, what he did appreciate more than anything was a sense of quality and authenticity. It was worth what it cost him to own something well made, and this collection of garments was a clear example of that.
After all 112 quilt blocks were sewn together, we decided to create a border out of 3 different shades of solid wool suiting that visually fit with the shirts and really set off the center block design.
I don’t often get to be present when my customers first lay eyes on their quilt, but I had the honor of giving Amanda her quilt in person. It was a heartwarming moment as she wrapped it around herself, at a loss for words.